Thursday, May 2, 2019

Oshkosh foster parents plead not guilty

Winnebago County Sheriff's Department
Alan Small and Barbara Peterson, shown in booking photos, face upgraded charges in the case of one youth.
By Miles Maguire
The mother-and-son team of foster parents who stand accused of criminally neglecting three teenage Oshkosh boys pleaded not guilty May 2.

The son, 35-year-old Alan Small, was present in court but has moved to the Houston area, according to his attorney, Amber Gratz. She indicated that Small would contest the accusations against him by filing motions in the near future.

Small and his mother, 60-year-old Barbara Peterson, now face upgraded charges with respect to one of the youths. In the case of the child identified in court papers as EDP, both Peterson and Small are accused of child neglect that led to emotional damage.

This charge is a Class G felony that could result in a fine of up to $25,000 and a 10-year prison term. The other child neglect charges, which do not specify a harm that occurred, are Class H felonies, carrying fines of up to $10,000 and terms of up to six years.

Penny Hummel, the adoptive mother of EDP, said in court papers that she was concerned that her son would not easily recover from his experiences at the Oshkosh foster home.

“These kids were put there because they needed help, and it was supposed to be a safe place,” she said. “Now they will need a long time of counseling to get over being in this foster home, if they can get over it.”

She said her son has lost weight, refused to take medications and has trouble defecating.

Small and Peterson were charged Feb. 27 with felony child neglect after police were told of living conditions that included a lack of access to the bathroom and alarms on bedroom doors.

The initial police report said the boys in the house were forced to use “toilet buckets” in their rooms and then dump the contents in the yard. But Small has argued that the boys were using portable commodes and has entered a picture of one in the court file as evidence.

Last month Small said he had been offered a job in child care and asked Judge Daniel J. Bissett to amend his bond conditions. But the state objected, and the judge left in place the restrictions, which prohibit the defendants from working or volunteering in a care facility.

Small was told to file any motions in the case within 20 days and to return to court June 6 for further proceedings.

Peterson is scheduled to return to court July 3 for a plea/sentencing hearing.

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